A Community Website by Lopez Island
The Neverending Ferry Debacle (Transportation Services)
Lopez Island
June 9, 2018
Posted by Hazel Burns, Lopez Island

A week ago I had the misfortune to be on the 8.25pm Yakima sailing (which was already running a couple of hours late) when they attempted to load a very long MRI mobile screening unit. It became stuck on the loading ramp because of a combination of low tide and the configuration of the trailer which, as far as I could see, had two axles of four wheels each at the rear but no wheels at all at the front, and so had nothing supporting it once the cab towing it was no longer on the same level as the trailer. Why did not the ferry workers loading the boat realize what would happen? Why is it not routine procedure to inspect none-standard vehicles, so that problems of this nature can be avoided? We arrived home at 3.30am..... seven hours in transit!

Yesterday evening I was again on the 8.25pm Yakima sailing and again it was late - about one hour behind schedule. The Yakima is running late because it is being slowed down by a damaged propeller. The WSF site informs us that this state of affairs will continue until July 30 when a ferry which is in drydock for repairs will return to service thus freeing up the drydock for the Yakima to have it's propeller fixed. This means that we can expect the Yakima to run late every day for the next seven weeks (including over the usually chaotic Fourth of July.) If the Yakima is going to run late every day why cannot the schedule be temporarily amended to reflect that fact? The ferry is routinely running late but those of us with reservations are still required to be through the gate half an hour before the designated sailing time and then to waste our time sitting in line. A little consideration for passengers would be nice, but WSF obviously thinks that our time is of no value.

While there is a ferry in drydock WSF is, presumably, one ferry short and, once that first ferry is released then the Yakima will be in drydock, so WSF will still be one ferry short - basically a ferry short throughout the entire busy tourist season. BUT, AS ALWAYS, THE SACRED SYDNEY FERRY CONTINUES IN OPERATION, even though there are other means of reaching Vancouver Island.

Washington, it seems, is not equipped to build or maintain ferries adequately. There is, apparently only one available drydock so only one boat can be repaired at any given time? Or possibly two ferries cannot be taken out of service at the same time because there is no spare capacity? This second possibility brings us to the problem of new ferries. Our ferries are required to be built in Washington State. I understand that we do not have the capacity to build more than boat at a time? Additionally we pay precisely twice as much as BC Ferries which buys their boats from Poland. It is certainly desirable to build our own boats and to keep the jobs in state but how is such a large price difference justified. WSF needs to drive a much harder bargain, but I would guess that the unions will not permit that?

Last, but definitely not least, there is no sign of Lopez ever having a reservations system. Getting off the island, which is unpredictable at any time, in the summer months is a crap shoot. Could not we have a system whereby reservations holders would line up at the front and non-reservations holders would line up at some designated point further back along Ferry Road. At say, 30 minutes before sailing, the non-reservations holders would all move forward to join the line of reservations holders. Yes, this would take some extra effort as a ferry worker would have to travel along the first section of the line checking reservations, but it would not be difficult, and those of us with doctors appointments, planes to catch, etc. could relax a little.

WSF is a law unto itself and passenger concerns are very clearly not the priority that they ought to be.


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Read a book, compose a poem, sketch a scene from last night’s dream. Check the oil, dust the dashboard, kick a tire. Stretch. Meditate. Take a nap. Snack. Catch up with a friend, make a new one, pet a dog. Write down your favorite memories of loved ones.... Read all
Julia Gilbreath: The Neverending Ferry Debacle

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Hazel Burns produced a thoughtful excellent summary of the current
ferry situation. A new realistic schedule for the remainder of spring and the summer would be easy and cost effective to produce.
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